TORONTO — Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Teoscar Hernandez, George Springer, Bo Bichette and Danny Jansen jacked long balls to set a club record for homers in a season and keep the Blue Jays playoff hopes persistent on the eve of the final day of the regular season.
The five-homer, 14-hit game backed a 10-strikeout outing from rookie starter Alek Manoah in Toronto's 10-1 victory against the lowly Baltimore Orioles on Saturday.
The Blue Jays have drilled a Major League Baseball-leading 258 homers this season, one better than the club record of 257 set in 2010.
With the New York Yankees 12-3 losers at home against the Tampa Bay Rays, the Blue Jays (90-71) climbed to within one game of the Bronx Bombers in the American League wild-card grapple.
The Blue Jays and Yankees (91-70) could find themselves in a four-way tie with the Boston Red Sox (90-70) and Seattle Mariners (89-71) at the end of the regular season.
That would mean two tie-breaker games on Monday, with the winners gaining the two American League wild-card slots and playing on Tuesday. The Red Sox and Mariners played later on Saturday.
The Blue Jays enjoyed a 6-1 lead after two innings before 29,916 at the Rogers Centre. Guerrero smoked a two-run monster homer off the third-deck restaurant in left field in the first inning. His 47th of the year tied the record for homers in a season by a player age 22 or younger, set by the great Eddie Mathews in 1953.
Hernandez followed with his 32nd homer, a solo shot two batters after Guerrero.
In the second inning, a Santiago Espinal single and Jansen double put runners on second and third. Springer then cleared the bases with his 20th homer.
Espinal doubled in Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who reached base on an error from Baltimore shortstop Richie Martin in the third inning.
Springer led off the fifth with his 20th homer to left field, and Jansen, with his 11th, set the team record with a two-run, two-out blast to left four batters later.
Espinal was on base after singling to left for his third hit of the afternoon. Springer enjoyed a four-for-four game.
Manoah (9-2) won his fourth start in a row to give the Blue Jays an AL-best record of 21-9 record since the beginning of September. He only surrendered one hit and one walk in his seven-inning, 89-pitch outing.
The Orioles scored their lone run in the second inning. Trey Mancini led off with a double, moved to third on a sacrifice fly from Kelvin Gutierrez and scored on Ryan McKenna's grounder to second.
The Orioles (52-109) will finish with the worst record in the AL in 2021 and second-most losses in team history behind the 115 they endured in 2018.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 2, 2021.
Tim Wharnsby, The Canadian Press